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American Resistance To Empire

Former Ambassador Ford to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Gave Syrians False Hope–(FULL TEXT)

Ford to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Gave Syrians

False Hope

 

 

Ford: The Kurds will pay the price of their trust in the Americans … Obama did not leave Trump a lot of options.  Said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran and Hezbollah were spared Assad and wanted to crush the Syrian opposition

London: Ibrahim Hamidi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former US President Barack Obama has left little choice for President Donald Trump to change the rules of the game to reduce Iran’s influence in Syria, the last US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, told Asharq Al-Awsat in London, pointing out that the Iranians would push the Americans to withdraw. From eastern Syria and withdrew from Beirut in 1983 and Iraq.

Ford said the Kurds would pay dearly for their trust in the Americans, and that the US military was using them only to fight a “preacher” and would not use force to defend them against Syrian regime forces or Iran and Turkey. “What we do with the Kurds is immoral and a political mistake,” he said. Ford left Damascus in 2012, but remained America’s envoy to Syria until he resigned in 2014 and became a research fellow at the Middle East Research Center in Washington and a professor at Yale University.

 

Here is the text of the talk, which was held in London yesterday:

* Let’s start with a pivotal point, your visit to Hama in June 2011. Why did you go? Do you think the decision was wise?

– The questions are two. why did you go? The answer is easy. We had information that Hama was besieged and the army encircled the city and we were worried about violence in the demonstration the next day. I went Thursday to witness the violence if it happened to know who started it because the question in Washington would be: Who started the violence? The demonstrators or the government? If they asked me from Washington and I said I do not know because I am in Damascus they will not accept my answer. I also thought that if I sent diplomats from the embassy it would not be as effective as if I had gone myself.

My visit also includes a message to the Syrian government that we are taking the issue seriously and should not send the army into the city. Hama has a tragic history as it is known. I did not seek approval from the US State Department. I just said I was going. I sent to Jeffrey Feltman (Assistant Secretary) Wednesday and said I was going to Hama Thursday and demonstrations on Friday.

Q: Did you inform the Syrian government?

– We sent a note saying we would send a diplomatic car with four diplomats. I did not say I would be among the diplomats. And arrangements with the Syrian Foreign Ministry, including the obligation to inform them 48 hours ago, and if there is no objection, we proceed with the implementation of what we have said. So I traveled, although I did not expect to be allowed into Hama.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] There was also French Ambassador Eric Chevalier?

– Yes in a different car.

Q: Was it a wise decision?

There are two aspects. Positive and negative. Positive, my visit has shown the Syrians that we are interested in human rights issues. So far, when I meet Syrians they say to me: I went to Hama, thank you. Also, I knew a lot about the opposition from the visit. Before that, we did not know how organized they were. They have their own security, a unified command, and an economic relief agency for families. This was not the reason we went, but I learned.

There are two passions to go. First, the Syrian government used my visit to support its propaganda that the Syrian revolution was an external conspiracy. Second, one of my students at Yale writes a thesis about it: My visit and other work in Syria in 2011. Encouraged the protest movement to grow, but the Americans were not ready to send the army to help the Syrians. This means that we have given the Syrians false hope.

* False hope?

 

– Do you know the story of Hungary in 1956? In the Cold War. (President Dwight) Eisenhower and the Soviet President (Nikita) Khrushchev. At that time, the Hungarians demonstrated in Budapest. Before that, there was American propaganda to help people and demonstrate against communism in Eastern Europe, including Hungary. The West was sympathetic to them. The Hungarians rose in November 1956 during the Suez Canal crisis. Of course, the Americans did not do anything. The Hungarians were crushed by the Soviet army and there were victims, arrests and disappearances. For the Hungarians, it was a terrible experience. Some people say that the visit you made and (Ambassador) Chevalier was like what happened in Hungary: we gave people hope and then we left them. It was never our intention. As you know I always said in Damascus, the US military did not come. I have often discussed with opponents. I told everyone: After the Iraq war, the US military will not come to your aid. I told the people in Hama: Stay peaceful. If there is violence, the US military will not come.

Some people have heard my message, but not everyone. Which meant there was encouragement even if it was not intended. My answer is, I do not think the Syrians demonstrated and rebelled because they wanted to help America, but to get Assad out of power. They demonstrated in the streets not because of America, but because of what they saw in Egypt and Tunisia.

Then, in August, there was a discussion in the White House, and then President Barack Obama announced that Assad should step down. what happened?

– I was not sure about the meeting, but they called me from Washington to tell me in Damascus. The debate lasted weeks before that. I was against Obama’s statement.

* Why?

 

Is Assad legitimate?

There were dozens of meetings. They sent me the meeting agenda in Damascus on the eve of Obama’s speech. After the meeting, a senior White House official called me. He tried to call the secure phone but did not work in Damascus. It was a hangover. Then call me on an unsecured regular phone. He said: Robert, do you remember the subject we were discussing in a regular way? I said yes. He said: “We have had other meetings and we believe that the issue is about the special decision we will make. Do you know what I’m talking about? I said yes. He said: What do you think? I said: Nothing will change here in the government. May change the protest movement, but certainly will not lead to major political changes. I could not say: Assad will not step down because I know that Syrian intelligence is listening to me.

“Would you be safe if we did?” He said. I said: Sure I’ll be fine. Repeat as saying: Are you sure. I said: Because of the Russian veto, there will be no problem and my life will not be in danger. I added: You know that this position will ultimately achieve the goal I have come to, that is, talk with the government. He said: We understand that.

This is the error you have made. I should have said: No, Obama should not say so. But because I know there is political pressure in Washington, I said to him: Yes, I will be in a safe position.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] A US official told me that he was at the meeting and opposed Obama’s saying that Assad should implement his military decision to step down.

– I should have said to the high official: If you are not able to implement the permit, you must remain silent.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Six years later, did you expect Assad to remain in power despite everything that happened in the country?

– The end of 2013. I thought that the war of attrition would be harsh on the regime and they would negotiate a deal. Some will ask for amnesty and go to Algeria, Russia or Cuba, and there will be a coalition government that includes perhaps (the head of the National Security Bureau) Ali Mamluk or (the head of the General Intelligence) Mohammed Dib Zitoun under the leadership of a former deputy president Farouk al-Sharaa with the opposition and the independents.

However, because the Syrian regular army will be weak, the regime will accept to save itself in return for abandoning the families of Assad and Makhlouf.


[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you really think that the regime will end?

– Yeah. This is the biggest political mistake he has committed. I did not expect Iran and Hezbollah to send thousands of fighters. I did not expect Hezbollah to sacrifice its reputation in the Arab world for Assad. I thought they would negotiate a political coalition first. This is the biggest political mistake we have committed. We never expected that.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Did you think that the militarization of mobility was a correct decision?

Until I left Damascus in March, I was asking for political dialogue. I even thought that because of my position in the fall of 2011, I would have problems in Congress. I’ll tell you how he started talking about militarism. Even when the embassy closed and I returned to Washington in March 2012, we were saying: dialogue and dialogue and no violence. We have been adhering to the initiative of Kofi Annan (former international envoy) with six points. They did not call for violence to stop negotiations. Of course, it failed.

Then, Fred (Hoff, the US envoy) went to Congress to present his testimony. In that debate as he was speaking, a member of Congress was asked about violence: Do you think it is justified for the Syrians, the protest movement and the opposition to use violence? Farid said: When someone comes to your house to pick you up and then you are tortured and killed, it is normal to use violence against your family. This is understandable.

It was the first time an American official said that he was “OK” to use violence against the regime. We were surprised when we heard him say that. We seemed to have crossed a red line.

 

This made Congress happy because they heard what they wanted to hear. On the other hand, it was not possible to continue: No to violence, only to dialogue, especially with continued escalation, explosive drums and chemical weapons. This is some of the destroyed Homs.

* I resigned from your position at the end of February 2014. Before that there was a debate in Washington about arming the opposition and the Free Army at the end of 2012?

– When Fred Hoff passed the line, it seemed to me that we had to do what we could to put pressure on the regime, especially after the failure of Annan’s plan. In May, the international observer mission, Robert Maude, failed. Back then, I went to Washington and visited (CIA Director) David Petraeus in May 2012. I knew him from Iraq and we worked together. I said: Greater effort must be made in Syria and attention must be paid to the infiltration of terrorists from Iraq. We must think about helping the moderates, pressuring the regime and stopping the progress of extremists. That means, you should help the moderates. Petraeus looked at me. He is intelligent and not stupid. He did not say much, just said: Let me talk to my group in the CIA about this.

* Then he made a proposal to arm the opposition?

Two months later, I spoke to Clinton and interviewed the CIA. There was agreement on what to do. Must help the moderates.

* With weapons?

– Yes, with weapons. In June and July I spoke to Clinton about the matter. I expected to reject this and we will not arm the opposition because this is a major change in our policy and we want dialogue, the Geneva Declaration, a negotiated solution and a national transition authority. I expected the meeting to be difficult with Clinton, but the reality was that it immediately agreed to end the “victory front” and support the moderates with arms and aid to support the citizens in order to pressure the regime to accept the Geneva Declaration.

You know what she said?

* What?

 

 

– She also said: We will have more influence on the opposition to accept a political negotiated solution. The meeting with Clinton was easy. I did not know the details. An American journalist said: Clinton met with Petraeus in June and talked to her about it before she met him. So neither of them told me about it.

Obama rejected Clinton and Petraeus’ recommendation to arm the opposition?

– did not refuse, but put the recommendation in the drawer. In American culture it means rejection.

* The CIA secret program began after that?

– I have to be careful. I can not talk about the secret program. What can be said: the debate continued on several occasions in the months following to 2013. At that time, there were reports that the regime used chemical weapons in small quantities in the province of Aleppo and the countryside of Damascus. There were reports that al-Qaeda and al-Nasra were becoming more widespread. And (John) Kerry got Obama’s approval in 2013. His first meeting was about Syria. And talked with him about arming the opposition and Obama’s rejection. Kerry said: This must be done. I said: The president did not agree. He went to Obama and talked about it. He returned and said to me: I have approval from Obama to provide non-lethal aid to the opposition. Food, communications, medicine and clothing, but not a weapon. I asked: What about the weapon?

 

Kerry said: Weapon, no. But he asked me to start immediately. Kerry then announced at a meeting of “Friends of Syria” in Rome with the head of the “coalition” Moaz Khatib. The first batch arrived at the end of March and came from Kuwait.

What about arming? When did he start?

 

– The first Washington Post report on the CIA program appeared in September 2013. I will just say that my press sources were excellent. I did not read anything wrong in my article. Then the articles began to appear after September. And then Ben Rhodes (White House official) said after the chemical use in 2013, that President Obama decided to «take additional steps» without specifying.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] But Assad remained until 2017?
– No, I expected that the (regular) army will shrink back to the defensive lines and then in the war of attrition, some soldiers will leave and then will negotiate. Got a little bit. But they left the border in 2012. We thought that the worse the military situation, some people within the system will say: Let’s start negotiating.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Have you put a list of those who accept any solution?

– We set up a list of three circles in the system: the narrow circle, the second circle, and the third circle. I asked the opposition to prepare a list. It does not matter if Americans have a list. What is important is that the opposition has a list. I spoke to opponents to present a “black list” of people you believe should be deported. I was very upset, because the opponents travel a lot and when we ask for the list, they say, “We want you to intervene and we want an air embargo. I was saying: We are not talking about an air embargo, but a negotiated solution with the regime.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Washington did not want to change the regime, but rather a negotiated solution.

– In 2013, I told the Syrian opposition: You should be open to Assad. If you convince Assad to change the head of air and military intelligence, political security and public intelligence. If the head of the Central Bank and the Minister of Finance changes, and then appoints independents instead of Assad’s control, his survival can be accepted. Gosh!. They said: This is impossible.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] So, Washington accepted Assad’s survival in 2013, contrary to the statements?

– Yeah. Because the Geneva negotiations were making no progress. I expected the Geneva negotiations to be doomed to failure, especially because of Iranian support. I did not expect Russian support. With Iranian support, I expected Assad to remain, so I left office.
* In September 2013, she participated in the Kerry negotiations with his Russian counterpart

 

Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on the chemical agreement. Was the deal: Assad remains in exchange for giving up the chemical?

– No, vice versa. There was a meeting between Kerry and Lavrov about the chemical and I was present. The subject was not the chemical, but the Geneva negotiations and the political transition. We asked for the meeting and the Russians accepted the meeting. Kerry said: We do not want the collapse of the state. This is not our goal. We just want a transitional government and are ready to negotiate. “We want the Syrian army and the free army to work together to fight terrorists like Nasra and terrorists,” Lavrov said in a humiliating way. Kerry said: Sergey. That’s what we want too. Lavrov: So they agree. Kerry: But this can not be done with Assad’s presence and there must be a transitional body through negotiation. But the Free Army can not expect to include the Syrian army without change in government. This is impossible. Lavrov: If you try to change Assad, the whole system will collapse. We said: Well, this is about negotiation so we can achieve the goal without it. Lavrov: If you think we’ll take the lion and offer asylum, you’re wrong. Kerry said: We do not want that, but we want a negotiated and transitional solution.


[Asharq Al-Awsat] Did you think that Lavrov used Kerry?

– Yeah. I told Kerry after signing the chemical deal: The Syrian government will be cheated. You know they will fool us. They (in Damascus) are not honest, and always cheat. Kerry said: This goes back to the Russians. The Russians will prevent the regime and the most important thing is the investigation and control system. Kerry said the Russians had agreed to a transparent process of inquiry. I told Kerry: The details of the verification is important because the Syrian regime will cheat.

* What has changed?

 

– At the beginning of 2013 expected to go to Assad and then took the battle of the short and entered the “Hezbollah” in a large and non-dynamic war and then used a chemical signal of military pressure. By the end of 2013, what happened? The chief of staff of the “Free Army” Salim Idris and the pillars faded and emerged «Ahrar Cham» and «Nasra». And the “Free Army” in the south has not made any progress. The chemical used. The Iranians are sending more militias. Iraqis come to Syria. There was a big recession.

In contrast, there was no US escalation. Therefore, the Iranian position will advance. Assad may retreat, but he will remain in Damascus and the coast. We believed that in a recession, Assad would keep Damascus, the coast, Homs and Hama, but he would not take Aleppo and would not go east. That is, we expected to divide the fait accompli. Which we did not expect, in 2014 and 2015. More Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans and Hezbollah, and then Russia sends its air force.

* Account error?

– Yes we had to expect it. It was a big mistake. We did not expect stagnation because it was in favor of Assad.

Why did not Washington change the recession?

The lion won. He is victorious, or he thinks so. Maybe in ten years it will take all the country.

 

The regime will not be held accountable for chemical weapons, fighting, torture, “explosive drums”, refugees and displaced persons. No accounting. Assad may not visit Paris or London, but no one will go to Damascus to take regime officials to the Hague trial? no one. The system may take some time to recover a shield. Sooner or later he will go to Idlib. The Russians will help him and go to Qamishli and conclude an agreement with Iran and Turkey to destroy the Kurds.

Q: What about the Americans? Will not protect the Kurds?

– Do you think the Americans will fight in Qamishli?

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Americans support the Kurds to liberate Al-Raqqa from “urging”.
– Have you heard of an American official or read an American statement saying: We will defend the “West of Kurdistan” after the defeat of “Da’ash”?

* No? what does it mean?

– Is this by accident? They will not defend the Kurds against the Assad forces.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are they using the Kurds to liberate Al-Raqqa?

– Yeah. So, I think that what we’re doing with the Kurds is not only politically stupid, but immoral. Americans used the Kurds for many years under Saddam Hussein. Do you think the Americans will treat the “Democratic Union” and the “People’s Protection Units” in a different form than former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (when he abandoned them)? Frankly, US officials told me that. Syrian Kurds make the biggest mistake in their confidence in Americans.

Do you think US officials are using the Kurds?

– Yes, in a tactical and temporary manner and will not use the US military to defend the “West of Kurdistan” as an independent region in the future of Syria.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] But for the first time, the US military defended its allies in the Syrian Badia and the Al-Tanf camp against Iran’s allies.

– Why did they do that? Not to push Assad to reach a political and negotiated solution, but to defend the opposition fighters who are fighting “dashing.” There is a difference between fighting a “push” and seeking a concession from Assad on the future of Syria. Last thing, Trump management will not do this.

* It has been said that the management of Trump two priorities: to fight «urging» and reduce the influence of Iran and control over eastern Syria will achieve both?

– Some officials in Washington believe this, but the Americans will soon know that Iran will step up and that America will not have the patience and the military power to make a counter-escalation.


* what does it mean?

– The Americans will withdraw. As you know, we withdrew from Beirut in 1983 and withdrew from Iraq as well.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that the Iranian Crescent will retreat?

– There is an “Iranian crescent” which exists and cannot be defeated in eastern Syria. Iranian influence comes in Syria from western Syria, Damascus airport, the relationship between Tehran and Damascus, and Iran’s support for the regime in Damascus.

How can the Iranian Crescent be defeated?

– by imposing a negotiated solution on Assad and the opposition. But Iran and Russia are giving support to the regime, taking Aleppo and destroying it. For the first time since 2012, the Assad forces on the borders of Iraq and not the Kurds.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are they Iranian forces?

– True, Afghans, Iranians and Iraqis ….

What is Iran’s goal?

– The Iranians want to end the Syrian opposition once and for all. The military solution only. They prefer a route that passes through western Kurdistan, Raqqa, Aleppo and then to Lebanon. If the Syrian Kurds surrender, it will be acceptable. But the condition of full surrender and taking instructions from Damascus otherwise the Kurds will destroy and the Turks will be happy and cooperate with Iran against the Kurds.

* What is the ultimate goal of Trump?

– He wants to reduce Iranian influence so I heard from one of Trump’s advisers a few weeks ago, but does not know that the game is over. They were too late. Obama has not left Trump’s management a lot of options to achieve its goal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NYT Highlights Taliban Split and Afghan Govt Sponsorship of Mullah Rasoul Faction

Taliban Civil War Continues To Rage In Helmand, As Mullah Rasoul and Mullah Habitullah Trade Suicide-Bombs

Afghanistan Sponsoring Guantanamo Taliban Mullah Rasoul?

Pakistan Arrests Mullah Rasoul After He Outs CIA/ISI Taliban Mansour

TOLO NEWS Identifies Mullah Rasoul Faction As Pro-Peace Talks vs Pro-Pakistani Taliban of Mullah Mansour

Mullah Dadullah Front, Guantanamo, and the New, New Taliban

UAE/Afghan Investigators Claim Quetta Taliban Ordered “The Hit” On UAE Officials In Kandahar

 

 

Afghan security officials patrolling an area after a suicide bomb blast that targeted a checkpoint run by the breakaway Taliban faction known as the Renouncers, in the district of Gereshk in Helmand Province last week. Credit Watan Yar/European Pressphoto Agency

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — It was a particularly bitter fight in the heavily contested district of Gereshk in Helmand Province. The adversaries deployed suicide attackers, roadside explosives and a magnetic bomb stuck to the undercarriage of a commander’s car, amid pitched firefights that went on for several days last week.

When it was over, at least 21 people were dead on both sides — and all were members of the Taliban.

As a result, Gereshk remained one of the few places in the province still mostly under the Afghan government’s control, thanks to a breakaway Taliban faction that has become a de facto ally of the government.

Infighting among the Taliban is nothing new. But Afghan officials have now chosen sides, with a policy that amounts to “If you can’t beat them, at least help their enemies do so.”

In recent months, the government has quietly provided the breakaway faction — popularly known as the Renouncers — with weapons, safe passage and intelligence support in their fight against the mainstream Taliban. The result has been a series of successes in areas where the government has otherwise suffered repeated defeats, particularly in Helmand, a southern province where the mainstream Taliban still control 90 percent of the territory.

The Renouncers are followers of Mullah Mohammad Rasoul, who split with the main Taliban group after revelations in 2015 that the former Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, had long been dead. Mullah Rasoul and his followers were angered that Mullah Omar’s replacement, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, had kept the death a secret.

After Mullah Mansour was killed in an American airstrike last year, his successor, Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, antagonized the Rasoul faction even more, especially by choosing a hard-line member of the Taliban’s Haqqani wing, Sirajuddin Haqqani, as deputy leader in charge of military operations.

While they have been most active in Helmand Province, other Renouncer factions have engaged in bitter fights with the mainstream Taliban in Shindand District of Herat Province, in the northwest, and in the western provinces of Farah and Ghor.

Photo

An ambulance carrying the body of a suspected militant who was killed in a suicide bomb blast in Helmand last week. Gereshk is one of the few places in the province still mostly under the Afghan government’s control. Credit Watan Yar/European Pressphoto Agency

 

The fighting last week began when the mainstream Taliban attacked a Renouncer base in Gereshk, one of the few areas outside Helmand’s provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, that are not under Taliban control. The base, near an Afghan Army base, was struck by a pickup truck loaded with explosives and driven by a suicide bomber, killing 11 of their fighters, according to Hamidullah Afghan, a local police official. He said the authorities helped evacuate those Renouncers who were wounded to a hospital in Lashkar Gah.

In retaliation, the Renouncers began their own suicide attack against the Taliban at a bazaar in the district, according to Abdul Salam Afghan, a spokesman for the Helmand police. In all, 11 of the Renouncers and 10 of the mainstream Taliban were killed in the fighting, which was still flaring this week in the area of the bazaar, in Seminar Dasht village.

Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, the spokesman for the mainstream Taliban in southern Afghanistan, said the group they had attacked in Gereshk was a unit trained and equipped by the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence agency. He said it had no affiliation with the Taliban.

Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, the spokesman for the Renouncer faction, denied that the group was government-supported, saying that it was a popular movement spurred by resentment toward the mainstream Taliban.

“The reason they targeted us with a car bomber is the Taliban are afraid of us, because we are enhancing our influence in Helmand and the people realize now the Taliban are getting financial support from Iran and Russia,” Mullah Niazi said. “They have lost touch with the grass roots.”

He said the group had also fought against the Taliban in Ghor and Farah provinces. “We have told the residents not to allow Taliban to stay in their villages, and if anyone is found giving shelter to the Taliban, their homes will be burned to ashes,” Mullah Niazi said.

Government officials in Helmand publicly deny any support for the Renouncer faction. But several police officials there confirmed that the government had helped transfer wounded Renouncers to the hospital after the fighting last week. And a border police official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said that among the units guarding the entrances to Lashkar Gah is a Renouncer unit trained and equipped by the National Directorate of Security.

The intelligence agency pays the fighters salaries equivalent to $150 to $300 a month, as well as supplying them with food, weapons and vehicles, the official said.

Photo

Afghan forces patrolling the district of Pachir Agham near Tora Bora, in Nangarhar Province. Last week, the Islamic State scored a symbolic victory against the Taliban by taking control of the cave and tunnel complex in the area. Credit Ghulamullah Habibi/European Pressphoto Agency

 

The mainstream Taliban are worried that the Renouncers, who dress and look like other Taliban, have been infiltrating their ranks. In May, they claimed to have arrested 90 such infiltrators in Helmand, who they said were involved in assassination plots against the mainstream group.

Further complicating the picture in Helmand are groups known as the *Sangorians,

after a popular television drama that depicts a hero wandering the mountains and fighting evildoers, disguised in local garb. These groups, according to local officials, are recruited and trained by the intelligence agency, but dress as Taliban and infiltrate into Taliban-controlled areas to fight behind their lines.

Far to the north in Herat Province, the Taliban has made its most serious inroads in Shindand District. There the Taliban shadow governor, Mullah Samad, brought in reinforcements from other provinces to fight against the local leader of the breakaway faction, Nangyal (who like many Afghans uses only one name).

Nangyal was defeated and surrendered to the government, which then helped him reorganize his forces as a Renouncer group aligned to Mullah Rasoul, and return to the fight against the mainstream Taliban, according to Abdul Hameed Noor, a former governor of Shindand.

“Rasoul’s group are supported by the government forces, they operate very freely in government controlled areas,” said Haji Ajab Gul, another former governor of the district. “They can come to the main town of Shindand and target people they dislike.”

Last month, the Afghan Army detected a buildup of mainstream Taliban forces planning an attack on followers of Mullah Rasoul in another part of Herat Province, and government forces thwarted the assault with a pre-emptive strike, according to Lal Muhammad Omarzay, the governor of Adraskan District, where the clash took place.

“We do not have any direct contacts with Mullah Rasoul’s group, but we do not fight them either,” Mr. Omarzay said. “They do not face us, and we do not face them either.”

In several parts of the country, the Taliban also have to contend against the Islamic State in Khorasan, followers of the extremists in Iraq and Syria. The group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is particularly strong in parts of eastern Nangarhar Province, but it also has had a presence in Ghor, Farah and other areas. Most of those elements began as Taliban factions that turned against the mainstream group.

Last week, the Islamic State scored a symbolic victory against the Taliban by taking control of the Tora Bora cave and tunnel complex, once used by Osama bin Laden as a hide-out. The Afghan military said on Sunday that it was in the process of ousting the militants from the area.

 

*Sangorian

7 killed, 6 wounded in Helmand suicide blast
Jan 10, 2017
“The suicide bombing took place on Haji Khodaidad residence. A National Security Directorate (NDS) unit was also stationed at home which was known as Sangorian.

Civilians paying the price in Taliban conflict 
16 July 2007|
“’One evening the Taliban came into our village mosque. They preached about jihad and said we should support the jihad either financially or by our blood,’ said Haji Khodaidad, who left his home in Helmand’s Kajaki District two months ago.”

Bagram: The First Ever Prisoner List (The Annotated Version)
Haji Khodaidad, prisoner number ISN 3778
, Bagram, Helmand Province,
released June 2010

 

 

US Downing of Syrian Jet Escalates, As Russia Warns That US Aircraft Now Targets

[It is no stretch of the imagination to say that we could possibly be at war with Russia within two or three days.  Maybe now the world is about to see conclusively which side fights ISIS and which side protects them, since both Syria and the Pentagon have claimed that they were attacking ISIS at the time of the Syrian bombing (SEE:  Pentagon Claims Its Mercenaries Were the Ones Hitting ISIS, NOT the SyriansSana Reports Syrian Aircraft Shot-Down While Attacking ISIS Position, By Coalition Aircraft ).]

https://therearenosunglasses.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/665e6-2605084.jpg?w=869

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https://i1.wp.com/www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/imgs/mcdonnell-douglas-fa18-hornet-multirole-fighter.jpg

Russia warns it will treat US-led coalition

jets in parts of Syria as targets after US

downed Syrian plane

 

 

By Luis Martinez

The Russian Defense Ministry blasted the U.S.’ shooting down of a Syrian regime fighter jet as a “massive violation of international law” and said it will begin treating U.S.-led coalition jets flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as targets.

The ministry’s comments Monday came after a U.S. Navy fighter jet on Sunday shot down a Syrian fighter jet that had dropped bombs on Syrian rebel forces who are fighting ISIS in the country.

It was the first time the U.S. has engaged in air-to-air combat in Syria, signaling an escalation of the conflict. It is is also the first time an American aircraft has shot down any other country’s aircraft in air-to-air combat since 1999 during the Kosovo air campaign when a U.S. Air Force F-16 shot down a Serbian Mig-29.

Russia, which is backing the Syrian government regime in its civil war against rebel forces, slammed the U.S. action as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

“Repeated combat actions by U.S. aviation under the cover of counterterrorism against lawful armed forces of a country that is a member of the U.N. are a massive violation of international law and de facto a military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Ministry also warned that any coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates “will be tracked by the Russian ground and air anti-aircraft defense systems as air targets in the areas where Russian aviation is on combat missions in the Syrian sky.”

Sunday’s downing of the Syrian jet occurred in an area southwest of the Euphrates River. And the U.S.-led coalition conducts missions in areas west of the Euphrates River near Manbij and Al Bab, two towns retaken from ISIS by U.S.-backed rebel forces.

The coalition said in a statement that its focus is on fighting ISIS, not the Syrian regime or Russian forces, but that it will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces coming under attack.

The incident occurred in the town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqa, Syria, which had recently been retaken from ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces supported by the U.S. in the fight against the terrorist group.

SDF came under attack from regime forces in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad around 4:30 p.m. Syria time. A number of SDF fighters were wounded in the assault, and the SDF soon left Ja’Din.

Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force overhead that stopped the initial pro-regime advance towards the town.

“Following the pro-Syrian forces’ attack, the coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘deconfliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing,” said a statement from Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS.

“At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet,” said the statement.

The Syrian pilot is believed to have been able to eject from the aircraft, according to a U.S. official.

But the Russian Defense Ministry contradicted the coalition claim that the air-safety hotline had been used and noted that there were Russian aircraft in the area when the Syrian plane was shot down.

The Ministry said it would stop its participation in the deconfliction line, much as it did following American cruise missile strikes in Syria in April. But at that time, U.S. and Russian military forces continued use of the air safety hotline for Syria despite Russia’s announcement that it would stop participating.

Ja’Din, where Sunday’s incident occurred, is approximately two kilometers north of an established deconfliction area.

The U.S.-led coalition in its statement stressed its goals in Syria and that it will defend its partnered forces.

“The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat,” it said. “The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.”

The downing of the Syrian jet is the latest escalation between the U.S.-led coalition and pro-regime forces in the country.

Over the last four weeks, the U.S. has conducted three airstrikes on pro-regime Assad forces backed by Iran that have moved into a de-confliction zone around the town of at Tanf in southwest Syria, which is the location of a coalition training base for local forces fighting ISIS.

Philippines Claims Maute Terrorists Nearly Mopped-Up

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/dod/jsotf-p.htm  

AFP: 225 Maute terrorist killed in Marawi

Siege nearing end

Gov’t now in control of 96 barangays in Marawi City – AFP

by Mike Crismundo and Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Butuan City — The government is in control of the 96 urban and rural barangays in war-torn Marawi City and is now focusing on the remaining portions of the city’s four barangays where an estimated 100 members of the Maute terror group are still hiding.

This was disclosed by Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) late Saturday afternoon who also revealed that the ground troops already recovered several firearms, cache of live ammunition, communication facilities, and computers left by the Maute terror group in the war zone.

President Duterte, who ended his five-day private time by visiting troops in Barangay Bancasi, Butuan City, Saturday afternoon, said that the Marawi siege was not a result of failure of intelligence but admitted that the government has become soft when it comes to dealing with rebels.

Firearms recovered from terrorists in Marawi City are inspected by (from left): Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. (Malacañang photo | Manila Bulletin)Enemy guns

The President said the Maute group was able to stock up on their arms and ammunition before challenging the government by laying siege in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, on May 23.

“It was not a question of failure on the part of the government. We have adopted a very soft policy towards rebels,” he stressed.

“This came about because nagdadala sila ng baril eh (They were bringing firearms). And since we are thinking of getting peace with the MNLF and MILF, ang laro ng armas diyan (the existence of firearms there), we took it for granted,” Duterte said, referring to the Moro rebel groups Moro Islamic and Moro National Liberation Fronts.

Padilla declined to divulge the number of combat maneuvering troops now penetrating the four barangays in Marawi City as tactical movement is still ongoing.

He also did not give the exact number of casualties on the side of the Maute terror group and even from the government forces as fighting, which is now on its 28th day, still rages.

“We don’t want to give you the numbers for the meantime and probably after clearing operations, we can already determine the exact figures,” he said.

He said air strikes will continue to cripple the remaining enemy positions and also to protect the troops on the ground.

Padilla also said ground commanders are verifying reports that the three Maute brothers were reportedly killed during the clashes. “We are still assessing and validating these reports as of this time,” he said.

“Masigasig ang ating mga sundalo na matapos na ito, we’re nearing to a conclusion” he said, but refused to give the timeline to newsmen when the Marawi crisis will end.

The AFP spokesman also reiterated that the AFP is not blocking relief goods going to various evacuation centers in Lanao. “Our ground troops never blocked convoy delivering relief goods to Marawi evacuees,” he said.

Padilla and AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo were with other top AFP and PNP officials when President Rodrigo Duterte, accompanied by Defense Secretary Delfin Lrorenzana, visited the officers and men of the AFP and PNP at Camp Bancasi here late Saturday afternoon, June 16, 2017.

FAILURE OF INTELLIGENCE

President Duterte disclosed that the Maute group was surreptitiously bringing firearms into Marawi City that the government was not able to keep count.

The President also said that the siege was not a failure of intelligence because in case Maute members were seen bearing firearms and pretended to be members of the MILF or MNLF, the standing order was to try and talk to them to avoid trouble.

He also said that this enabled the Maute group to stock up on their arms and ammunition in Marawi City.

“But all the while, itong (the) Maute, with the connivance of politicians there, were stockpiling,” Duterte said, adding that the group was just waiting for a reason and the right timing to stage their attack.

“Kaya hindi maubos ang mga bala at napakarami. Magputok ng isa ang gobyerno, ang ibabalik sa atin lima (That’s why it seems like they are not running out of ammunition. We fire once, they return it five times),” he said.

“So parang (it was like an) endless supply when Maute rose to fight the government,” he continued.

ISIS FIGHTERS

Duterte also said that there is a conglomeration of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters in Marawi City coming from Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Saudi Arabia.

“The fighting is going on, it is winding up but at the cost of so many soldiers also. And that is the danger of Maute and ISIS. Bantay kayo diyan. Mahirap kalabanin ‘yung taong gustong mamatay (Watch out for that. It’s hard to fight with people who want to die),” he said.

Duterte also confirmed intelligence reports on terrorists killing anyone who does not practice the religion of Islam.

“They have so corrupted the name of God in a form of religion to kill many innocent persons and to destroy for nothing,” he added.

The Chief Executive said the government is ready to find the root of the problem and finish it even if it means using all available resources.

“We have to use the air assets now because we are up against fighters, nanggaling ‘yan diyan sa Middle East (who came from the Middle East), and learned the art of brutal killing,” he said.

“Susunugin ka, putulan ka ng ulo, kung anu-ano. ‘Pag hinayaan natin ‘yan na ganoon, patay ang Pilipino (They will torch you, behead you, anything. If we let them, then the Filipino will die),” he added.

According to Duterte, Islam is welcome in the country but warned about ideology which came from the Middle East.

“We welcome Islam. [Pero] Itong Islam na imported ang ideology galing ng Middle East, anak na ng–talagang huwag tayong magpauna dito (But the Islam with ideology imported from the Middle East–we should not let that enter),” Duterte said.

“Mauna na lang tayo (Let’s just get ahead of them first) and let’s just resolve the problem or problems afterwards, we can discuss it,” he added.

NO APOLOGIES

Duterte also said that he will not be making any apologies for the ongoing conflict in Marawi as the citizens brought the problems on themselves.

This came after some Maranao and traditional leaders in Marawi and Lanao del Sur asked the President if they may be allowed to negotiate with the Mautes to end the hostilities.

According to Duterte, the leaders don’t need his permission as they brought the problem upon themselves when they chose not to report the situation to the authorities early on.

“You do not need my permission to do that. Ang problema kasi nito (The problem here is), little did they realize that they are dealing with ISIS already,” the President said.

“I am not apologizing for anything there because they brought the problem on themselves. Bakit hindi nila sinabi sa pulis, sa akin, sa Armed Forces na may mga foreign trade na pabalik-balik ‘yan (Why didn’t they report to the authorities or to me that there were foreign elements going back and forth in the city),” he added.

But if it were up to him, Duterte reiterated that he will not negotiate with the terrorists as the war has already resulted in the death of 59 government troopers.

“If they go to the Maute to talk about what? Surrender? O ano lang, areglo? Ganon na lang (or negotiate? Then what? That’s it)?” Duterte asked.

“Paano ‘yung patay ko (How about the the government troops who have died)? How about the murderous rampage of — ‘yung natamaan ng mga sniper nila (those who were hit by their snipers)?

INMATES SKIP MEAL

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato — Inmates at the district jail here skipped one meal to be able to raise funds to buy relief goods for evacuees displaced by the ongoing conflict in Marawi City.

Jail warden Supt. Simeon Dolojo, said more than 1,400 inmates of the Kidapawan district jail here decided to skip their one meal ration and were able to raise some P28,000 out of their P20 per meal allocation which was used to purchase rice, noodles and sardines which they repacked as relief goods.

The relief goods will be delivered to the regional office of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Koronadal City which will send the relief goods to Marawi City. (With a report from Joseph Jubelag)

Iran Repays ISIS Terrorist Attacks In Tehran w/Ballistic Missile Barrage In Syria

TEHRAN – Late on Sunday Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps fired six missiles into eastern Syria, targeting Islamic State strongholds in retaliation for the recent ISIS-claimed terrorist attacks in Tehran.

The national TV showed footages of missile attacks being launched from western Iran.

“In the operation, code-named Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny), the Guards launched six medium-range ballistic missiles at various targets in ranges between 650km to 700km,” Tasnim news agency quoted IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sahrif as saying on Monday.

Targeting “headquarters and gathering centers of Takfiri terrorists” in the Deir al Zour region of eastern Syria, the missiles used the Iraqi airspace.

The IRGC spokesman says the missile operation “is just a very small part of the capability of Iran’s punitive force against the terrorists and its enemies.” “The missiles were launched in coordination with Syria beforehand,” the IRGC official said.

The IRGC launched the missiles from western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan, home to Sunni Kurdish populations.
“The missile firings from the two Sunni-majority provinces at headquarters of Daesh terrorists carries the massage of unity of all Iranians in the face of terrorists,” Sharif added.

The missiles successfully hit the targets, Sahrif said.

The missile operation “is just a very small part of the capability of Iran’s punitive force against the terrorists and its enemies,” Sharif further noted.

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC aerospace unit, hailed the missile raids, saying any more evil act against Iran will result in “costly consequences”.

“Our enemies should know that Tehran is not London or Paris,” Hajizadeh stated, a reference to the European capitals coming under numerous terrorist attacks over the past years.

Iran vowed quick revenge after ISIS suicide bombers and gunmen stormed the parliament and the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini on June 7, killing 18 and injuring at least 56.

In a statement after the attacks, the IRGC issued a statement vowing avenge. “The spilling of any pure blood will not go unanswered,” read part of the statement.

Also, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, head of the Iranian armed forces, pledged “unforgettable lessons” to terrorists and their backers after the Tehran assault.

Former IRGC chief Mohsen Rezaei tweeted, “This was just the beginning of the revenge. Harder slap is underway”.
Rezaei also called the missile attacks “the message of Iran’s authority” to “supporters of terrorism.”

Iran had earlier implicitly suggested that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, its chief regional foe, had insinuated the terrorist attacks in Tehran.
The operation comes just days after the U.S. Senate passed the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act by an overwhelming margin, a new sanctions legislation which targets Iran’s ballistic missile program and applies sanctions against the IRGC.

The attack also sends a clear warning signal to Saudi Arabia which has been for some time trying to test Iran’s patience.
“Saudi Arabia and other countries supporting terrorism should know that the Islamic Republic has no joking with anybody,” senior MP Alaedin Boroujerdi said on Monday.

“We have entered a new phase of fighting terrorists in the region,” added Boroujerdi, chairman of the parliamentary national security and foreign policy committee.

AK/PA

Pentagon Claims Its Mercenaries Were the Ones Hitting ISIS, NOT the Syrians

[SEE: Sana Reports Syrian Aircraft Shot-Down While Attacking ISIS Position, By Coalition Aircraft ]

U.S. shoots down Syrian fighter

jet over Syria

 

 

By Luis Martinez

A U.S. Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian regime fighter jet on Sunday that had dropped bombs on Syrian rebel forces fighting ISIS in Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition said in a statement that it’s focus is on fighting ISIS, and not fighting the Syrian regime or Russian forces, but it will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces coming under attack.

The incident occurred in the town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqa, Syria, which had recently been retaken from ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces supported by the U.S. in the fight against the militant group.

SDF came under attack from regime forces in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad around 4:30 p.m. Syria time. A number of SDF fighters were wounded in the assault, and the SDF soon left Ja’Din.

Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force overhead that stopped the initial pro-regime advance towards the town.

“Following the Pro-Syrian forces attack, the coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing,” said a statement from Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS.

“At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet,” said the statement.

Ja’Din is approximately two kilometers north of an established East-West SDF-Syrian Regime de-confliction area.

In the statement, the coalition stressed its goals and that it will defend its partnered forces.

“The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat,” it said.

“The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated,” it added.

The shootdown is the latest escalation between the U.S.-led coalition and pro-regime Assad forces in Syria.

Over the last four weeks, the U.S. has conducted three airstrikes at pro-regime Assad forces, backed by Iran, that have moved into a deconfliction zone around the town of at Tanf in southwest Syria, which is the location of a coalition training base for local forces fighting ISIS.

Sana Reports Syrian Aircraft Shot-Down While Attacking ISIS Position, By Coalition Aircraft

Army general command: international

coalition air force targets an army’s

warplane in Raqqa countryside

 

Damascus, SANA-The Army general command announced on Sunday that the air force of the so-called “international coalition” targeted one of the army’s warplanes in al-Rasafah region in Raqqa southern countryside while it was carrying out a combatant mission against ISIS terrorist organization, causing it to down and missing its pilot.

The General command said in a statement that the flagrant aggression undoubtedly affirms the US real stance in support of terrorism which aims to affect the capability of the Syrian Arab army- the only active force- along with its allies that practice its legitimate right in combating terrorism all over Syria.

“The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administrating terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region.” The statement added.

It affirmed that such aggressions would not affect the Syrian Arab army in its determination to continue the fight against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations and to restore security and stability to all Syrian territories.

Mazen

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